March 28, 2010 | NewsTimes | Original Article

Garner inmates to count as Newtown residents in 2010 Census

NEWTOWN -- Inmates in Garner Correctional Institution will not be filling out a 2010 Census form. Instead, on April 1, the prison will provide the U.S. Census Bureau with an electronic count of prisoners housed there.

"One thing Corrections does very, very well is taking count of who we have incarcerated," state Department of Correction spokesman Brian Garnett said. "We're very good at it. I explained to the census folks if we were to deviate from that, the 100 percent accuracy rate was going to suffer mightily."

Garner is both a jail and a prison, meaning some inmates are there before sentencing, so they may only be there for a few hours, while others are serving life sentences.

"There is a question on the census that says, `Where do you live most of the time?' " Garnett said. "It doesn't fit our parameters."

If the person is unsentenced on April 1, the corrections department will also provide the Census Bureau the person's reported hometown.

To count prisoners at the federal prison in Danbury, local census office workers will go to the prison and train prison employees to distribute the surveys to the prisoners and collect them again. The whole process takes about an hour, local census office manager David Noone said.

Prison populations are counted in the town where the prison is located, not the prisoners' hometowns.

Garner housed 597 offenders as of Thursday. In the entire state prison system, 43 percent of the inmates are black, 31 percent are white, and 26 percent are Hispanic. Garnett said those numbers are representative of Garner, as well.